Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #118...

Smith & Wesson Model 469, 12+1 rounds of 9x19mm, made in 1983

Surreal World

"The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has just published in its latest English-language magazine Dabiq what it claims is an "interview" with the Jordanian pilot captured in Syria."
ISIS published in its what now?

ISIS has an English-language magazine? Man, if you see back issues of that in your dentist's waiting room, it's a big ol' no-go signal, am I right? "No, it's cool, tell Dr. Farouq I've got to cancel. I've got a thing. People I need to see. No, no, I'll call him."

Also: File under "Literature you do not want to discover in your seatback pocket on climb-out from LaGuardia."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


...have a cat picture.

"Is that food you have? I, too, am interested in food."
It took him a while to grow into those extravagant mustachios.

There's no getting away from the wookie suit.

With cars or motorcycles the government is all up in your grille with regulations: Safety regulations, emissions regulations, getting all bent out of shape if you try to do a buck-ten down residential side streets... Motor vehicles are not a hobby for the regulatory-averse.

Firearms? If the do-this/don't-do-that climate around motor vehicles makes you itchy, gun laws will make you break out in hives. Even the federal government agency in charge of enforcing firearms regulations can't make up its mind about the laws half the time.

Collecting old cameras, though; that should be safe, right? I mean, how can the government possibly dick up old cameras?

Like this, that's how.

Oh, government! Is there any parade on which you won't rain?

I'm afraid to take up new hobbies at this point because no doubt there are hidden crimes or ridiculous regulatory hurdles buried in everything from knitting to flower arranging.

This is how wookie-suiters get made.

Monday, December 29, 2014

"O" is for Old Ones...

Hey, Marko! Are the sprogs too old for this now?

Things I wish I'd paid more attention to...

  • I've spent hours and hours hanging out with my friend Oleg talking about all kinds of stuff, and never once did I think to data-mine him for all the photographic awesomeness he contains.

  • Les Jones' photography posts. Dude has been very consciously building his pickcher-takin' skills and noting the things he's learned in blog posts for years and years, and all I've been doing is looking at the pretty pictures and not following the notes.


The neighborhood gargoyle has gone from a thing I took pictures of for the fun of it to my standard reference target for new cameras or lenses. I've snapped his pic with everything from cell phones to film SLRs, from the bicycle, the Zed Drei, and the Subie.

I figure people who take the time to put shades on the huge gargoyle statue in the lawn aren't going to be put off their feed by the occasional vehicle stopping and cranking a window down to snap its picture.


Stayed up 'til 0300 to help see Roomie off to that weird shift she has to work in the starship's engine rooms every few weeks, then immediately to bed, to be awakened at 0600 by a very large and insistent tomcat who knows what time it is.

Feed the cats, and then doze fitfully to the dulcet tones of the morning news, and then get awakened shortly after 0900 by my cell phone ringing in the other room, letting me know the plumber was going to be by at about 1000.

I can do okay on six hours of sleep as long as it's at one solid whack, but I don't cogitate worth a darn on two disjointed naps. I've managed to do some pretty rote web chores for work this morning, but I'm not up to writing any sonnets, know what I mean?

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Anybody know someone who sells carbine-length AR barrels in .223 WSSM? Shoot me an email or FB message if you do. I'm getting my biannual urge to make my silly project gun, and I've belatedly realized that, given the magic of my MGI QCB upper, it can be a casual dalliance and not a long-term commitment.

Why? Because I want to take pictures of the fireball at night, that's why. Seriously, that's pretty much the main reason. I'm not even going to try to rationalize it with fantasies of taking the thing prairie-dogging or anything. It's just for the noise and the light show and the "Hurr-hurr-hurr!" factor.

Heck, I might build a pistol lower. I wonder how hard it would be to get that thing to run even semi-reliably out of an 11.5" tube? You'd need a gas port measured in microns, probably...

Ain't that always how it happens?

So I was looking for a reference photo of my Logitech washable keyboard for a FB conversation and I find that Logitech has discontinued the thing.

I swear, from tennis shoes to soda flavors to TV dinners, it gets to feeling as though me liking something is a surefire way to get it pulled from the market.

There are some used and NOS ones from third-party vendors at Amazon, but they're fetching scalper's tariffs compared to the original rather modest sticker price.

It comes with a little brush clipped to the bottom! There's a little bootie dummy-corded to the end of the USB cable to cover the connector while you scrub it in the sink! It's just handier than a pocket on a shirt...

ETA: This is apparently called Herblock's Law.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wait, wait, wait...

Mal's gun was made from a Taurus 85?
"Take my love, take my land
Give me a gun I cannot stand,
I don't care, hear me sing
You can't make me shoot this thing.

Well, neat-o!

I just now noticed that sometime just before midnight last night, VFTP recorded its eight millionth visit.

Thanks for reading, everybody!

Control Freak

It began when I saw a picture of the Nikon Df.

Nikon Df, image from Wikipedia.
I announced to my Facebook friends that I was madly in love; that this was how a camera should look; that I wanted one very badly. And it kicked off a discussion that somehow turned to film cameras, and the discussion got me to thinking... It wasn't really the "look" of the camera that grabbed me. After all, I have no real problem with the "look" of my 20D or Rebel XTi. Besides, I generally look through them, rather than at them.

Compared to the AE-1 Program I remember fondly from my commercial picture-taking days, my 20D is an enormously powerful machine, with a range of abilities and adjustments that would have been almost literally unbelievable to Early-'90s Me. And yet...

canon 20d controls
Canon 20D top controls
"Quick! Adjust the aperture manually! Do it now!"

Most of those abilities go unused. The 20D largely spends its time acting as a huge, heavy, program-mode Point-'n'-Shoot with interchangeable lenses. You can "drive stickshift" with the camera if you want, making a whole host of manual control inputs and adjustments, but it's like the clutch pedal's in the glovebox and the shift lever is out on the left front fender somewhere.

Aperture ring on Nikon 43-86mm F/3.5 AI
Aperture ring on Nikon 43-86mm F/3.5 AI
To those who haven't used one, a traditional SLR looks like an enormously fiddly and complicated piece of gear, and yet there are really very few controls, and most of them are easily accessible. Want to adjust the aperture? Turn the aperture control ring on the lens. It's right there under your hand. Further, it's in the same place on pretty much any brand of camera you pick up.

Film speed setting on Canon AE-1 Program
Film speed setting on Canon AE-1 Program
You could buy an entirely new brand of camera and, assuming you knew how to work the previous one, suss out the new one's functions with a minimum of having to consult any manuals. Part of having so few functions is that there's not that much new stuff to figure out on a new camera. It's all right there where you can see it and touch it; nothing to toggle through or hunt down in a submenu.

Shutter speed dial on Leicaflex SL
Shutter speed dial on Leicaflex SL
So it wasn't the old-school looks that intrigued me, but rather a hankering for the simple and accessible controls of yesteryear. I'm not actually in any danger of becoming a hardcore film Luddite (yet) because as it sits, if there were a non-vaporware, workable drop-in digital back for the AE-1 P or R4, I'd be on that thing like white on rice.


Here, while I'm trying to get something together, have a re-run. It's a post from 2011 on the fascinating topic of inner-city violence, intravenous opiates, and the virtue of running:
'Way back in the summer of aught-aught, when I was recovering from all the surgery they had to do to stick me together after my motorcycle accident, I had a double occupancy room at the Big City Public Hospital.

My roommate was an African-American woman who I thought of as "middle aged" at the time, but looking back, she seems to have gotten much younger; I mean, she probably wasn't much over thirty-five. Funny how that works. Anyhow, she was recovering from a gunshot wound in the arm.

She had friends and relatives in and out of the room nearly constantly, which should have annoyed me, except that I was curled up with an on-demand morphine drip and was consequently pretty much out of my head on opiates for most of our joint tenancy. During one of my more lucid periods, I asked her story, and received the following amazing tale in response...

Our heroine was standing at the bus stop, minding her own business. (This, as everyone knows, is one of the most dangerous things you can do in the 'hood.) The bus stop was slightly elevated from street level by a low stone retaining wall. All of a sudden and for no reason, as these things so often go down, the man in the house across the street emerged with his girlfriend, started shouting death threats at her, and the pair proceeded to hop in his car and try to run her down.

They were unable to reach her with the car due to the retaining wall, so the crazy guy leapt out of the car, leaving his girlfriend at the helm to continue playing Death Race 2000, while he shouted that he was going back across the street to fetch his gun and come back and shoot her.

"...and so he did," said my hospital roommate.

"Wait," I replied, confused, "you saw him run into his house, come back out with a gun, come back across the street, and shoot you, and you just stood there?"

"If I'd'a ran, he'd'a shot me!" she retorted, looking at me as though I had a screw loose.

"Looks like standing still didn't work so hot, either," I said, returning to the joys of the electrically-dispensed poppy. 


Friday, December 26, 2014


To avoid the legal nets
That entangled Bernie Goetz
Just yell "Help! Help! Police!"
Like Kitty Genovese.

From elsewhere...

"This is bad law, stemming from parliamentary goofiness and legislative clumsiness, and trying to build an entire just and logical jurisprudential structure on it is gayer than the front three rows at a Cher concert."

Automotif LXI...

From the Dark Ages of automotive performance, a Fiat Spider 2000. The two-liter smog motor struggled to make a hundred horsepower and a Spider pilot would probably find themselves demolished in a contest of speed by, say, my '99 Forester. The Forester driver wouldn't be having near as much fun, however.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Rat Bike

Honda CB550 rat bike parked up in front of Twenty Tap on Tuesday.

Automotif LX...

Spotted this early-'90s 'Vette with the full Greenwood aero kit on it in the parking lot at Broad Ripple Station, across from Thre3 Wise Men yesterday. I think history will be very kind to the clean lines of the C4. You can tell the basic shape is right when any attempt to hang gingerbread on it just makes it look worse.

(Some guy pulled into the parking space on the right, ending my chance to get better pics, so all I got was this drive-by shooting.)

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays from all of me here at VFTP to all the people in my computer!

They turn the Soldiers' & Sailors' Monument into a giant Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Slow Photography

I worked for several years in an assortment of one-hour photo labs. At the time, the machines we used were big, clanking Noritsus, and the process of developing the film and the photos themselves was largely automated, but the actual printing of the picture still required the negatives to be fed one at a time through the printer and the button pressed by hand.

How involved the process was was up to the crew who was doing it. It could range from just poking the button, to at least inputting the recommended color correction for the type of film in question, to actually looking at each individual negative glowing in the window and adjusting color balance and exposure based on what you saw there.

I prided myself on my ability to glance at a negative and perform reasonably good eyeball adjustments on the fly. The results were measured by the lack of prints that needed to be fed into the shredder and reprinted. This was easy to do on 35mm film with a bit of practice, but you know what was hard? This:
110 film was fortunately on the way out by the time I had to deal with it at work, so if it was more than a couple times a week that I had to squint at tiny negatives half the size of a postage stamp, then it was a bad week indeed. Further, I'm not going to suggest that there was automatically a correlation between the type of film a person was using and the quality of the images produced, but I am going to suggest that such was often the case.

Ever since the famous "You push the button, we do the rest!" Kodak Brownie democratized photography by allowing Any School Boy or Girl to push the button, people have been snapping unfocused, badly-exposed pictures of... well, frequently it was impossible to decipher what exactly it was they were trying to take a picture of. If a photograph requires a subject, then most of the stuff I looked at while seated at the controls of that Noritsu 901 was just exposed film.

Film purists decry the cell phone camera as some final perversion of photography, but I maintain that that point was reached with Kodak's Disc cameras of the early Eighties. If we were to plot a line of imaging technologies from the Lascaux cave paintings to whatever is the current ne plus ultra of photography, the Disc camera surely represents some sort of nadir. And yet, even given the truly awful pictures I've seen come from those chintzy little abominations, I'm sure someone, somewhere was taking good shots with them. I mean, some of my favorite photos have been taken with some truly subpar equipment...

Kodak EasyShare V1073

Nikon Coolpix S6500

Nikon Coolpix S6500

Samsung Galaxy SII
I'm getting back into film partly for the nostalgia, partly because I buy into the whole "slow photography" woo-woo a little bit, and partly because I like the process and the gear. The clicks as you select the aperture, the glide of the focus ring, the sense of coiling and storing energy as you thumb the winding lever for the next shot...

It's like driving stick shift; in this day of twin-clutch automatic transmissions, there's no performance advantage to the classic manual, but a certain amount of interaction with the machine is lost. I suppose a vocal few probably lamented the loss of the magneto advance control on the dashboard of cars, too, claiming it was an essential part of driving. Maybe it was, or maybe the ideal machine really is the one that translates our thoughts into reality as transparently as possible. Which is the Perfect Vehicle: An MG-TD or Scotty's transporter? I don't pretend to have the answer to that question.

When I read these words at Leicaphilia...
"In 2013, 25% of all of these images made were taken with smartphones, presumably by folks who don’t think of themselves as “photographers.”  As a result of this image explosion and the technological advances making it possible, photography is no longer a specialist language. it is now a universal language, spoken via social media, most of it inconsequential chatter. We have entered the fast food era of photography."
...I had to wonder where he was when I was spending those Monday mornings after a big concert weekend, printing roll after roll of images consisting of a row of sharply-focused badly-overexposed heads seen from behind, with something going on only dimly glimpsed in the murky background far beyond them. I guess he was hanging out with photographers. Lucky bastard.

I am largely unsympathetic.

"Martin said her son turned 18 in September. He had been expelled from school but was trying to get his life back together, she said..."
If your plan for getting your life back together includes pointing guns at the cops, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that it's not all that hot of a plan.

Still, gleaning inferences from the article, the kid's sitting square on the demographic bullseye where the bullets tend to land: Unemployed black teen male high school dropout with unmarried parents and an illegal gun in his trousers? Might as well be wearing a red velour pullover.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Canon AE-1 Program and Nikon EM
"The accordion player stopped at the grocery store and ran in to get a few things. While he was browsing the deli counter, he realized that he'd left his accordion in plain view in the back seat. He ran into the parking lot in a panic, but it was too late; the rear passenger window was smashed and now there were two accordions in there."

From elsewhere...

"I would like to point out in regards to the "Black Muslim" angle advanced earlier, that despite this 4th quarter rally, "Libertarian-ish Cracker Gun Nuts" still have a 3-2 lead on the cowardly back-shooting of LEOs scoreboard for 2014, if I've been filling my scorecard out correctly."
But, I mean, they weren't true Libertarian-ish Cracker Gun Nuts.


First was the dream in which I was being pursued through this huge underground airport baggage handling facility by the T-1000 Terminator. Ahnold's Terminator was trying to protect me because I had this microchip in my pocket that Skynet needed in order to take over or something.

Racing down halls and through huge rooms full of roller chutes and conveyor belts, I kept trying to help Ahnold shoot up the T-1000 in this long running gunfight with this sweet LaRue PredatAR 5.56, but he was like "No, go on. You have to keep that chip safe." And so I ran on and heard this colossal exchange of gunfire behind me, and knew that the T-1000 was still coming.

I ran through the airport parking garage, where there had been this awful helicopter crash, the place was full of mangled UH-1 and still smoldering wreckage and crime scene tape, and I ran through the airport check-in area, and remember being disappointed that there was no way I could get on the other side of the security zone with the AR because, like, the TSA totally would have stopped the T-1000 if I had, right?

And so I ran back out and got cornered in the landscaping with my back against one of the parking deck ramps, and the T-1000 grabbed my shirt with one hand and fished the microchip out of my pocket with the other. And then in a very un-machinelike fashion, it stood back to gloat, smirking at me and tossing its prize in the air and catching it. As the microchip reached the top of its arc, I hipshot the AR with one hand, reducing the chip to flying splinters; the T-1000 proceeded to lean in and beat me to death, but I remember waking up feeling like I'd won.

Then, later, dozing while the Today show was playing on the edge of hearing, they were doing a little piece on why kids are afraid of Santa. And I had this dream that when you took the kids to see Santa, you put them on a little platform, which was pulled up through a square hole in the ceiling, where Santa and his elves were waiting. And this square platform was attached by a rope at each corner to a single hoist rope, so it spun and wobbled aloft to bump through a hole barely big enough to fit it in the department store ceiling and I'm thinking "No wonder the kids are scared of Santa! They're thoroughly traumatized by the time they get up there!"

And then I woke up and ate breakfast.

Monday, December 22, 2014

People who do strange things with which I can't relate...

So I'm reading an older post over at Sean Sorrentino's place; can't remember how I got to such an old post, maybe a link from FaceSpace...
I carry a gun a lot. I have a nice leather holster for my Springfield XD .45 Compact, which isn’t really a small gun.It’s not nearly as big as the full size government model 1911,but it isn’t tiny either. You’d think (if you never carried) that it’d be easy to spot, even under clothing. This must explain why many concealed carriers seem to think that they must carry tiny guns. 
I can identify with that. I carry a full-size service pistol all the time and don't think it's any kind of burden on my lifestyle.
Saturday night I was over at a friend’s house for gaming night. Yes, dear friends, in addition to dressing funny and attending medieval re-enactments, I play the dreaded role playing game Dungeons and Dragons. Now that I have confessed my utter nerdiness to you all, I guess I must die of shame. 
I can identify with that. I played tabletop RPGs from middle school until well into my 30s and the only reason I don't now is because I don't know anybody locally who does. If I did, I'd be all about getting together on Tuesday nights or whenever to play some nerd poker. In the meantime, I make do with World of Warcrack. Don't judge.
Well, we were in the middle of gaming, and we got a knock at the door. When he answered the door, the owner found a young girl (18-25?) standing on his porch. She had a story about her cell phone not working and asked to use his phone. He invited her in...
*sound of needle sliding across the record* He did what? Dude, I can't identify with that. THAT is weird and alien to me. 

What kind of person, when their cell phone battery $#!+s the bed, just totally innocently knocks on the door of a complete stranger and asks to come inside and borrow theirs? Would you? Would I? No. Then why is she? "Wait out there, honey. Now, who do you want me to call to come get you?"


Slow start today.

I have got just a metric butt ton of stuff to get done before the end of the day/week/month/year. Whose bright idea was it to put all this stuff off, anyway?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Because I hate using good material at an away game...

I know I have used this space to blame the media for essentially fomenting civil unrest with its eagerness to get a microphone in front of the squeakiest wheel as fast as possible anytime something like the Brown/Wilson event goes down.

But, while I'd have no problem holding the media liable in some metaphorical sense, is it actually culpable? Is it a conspiracy?

I wrote elsewhere this morning:
"The news media" wants to do one thing: Sell commercials. They sell commercials by delivering eyeballs. They deliver eyeballs by delivering the most titillating news as dramatically as possible, with the catchiest music and the most eye-catching graphics and prettiest/most handsome talking heads...

And we sit here on a forum posting and clicking on the links to NY Daily News, Baltimore Sun, CNN, and more, shaking our heads and clucking our tongues like this is being done by some media "Them" to "Those Other People".
What's the fix? That's a damn good question.

Tab Clearing...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Skool Daze

Woke up early and I'm heading to gun school so I can be smarter.

(Well, actually, this won't involve any shooting. Hopefully it will be How To Not Use Your Gun School.)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Automotif LIX...

1986 Jaguar XJ-SC: The XJ-S was my dream car for a while when I was much younger.

Courting Disaster

I've had these two tabs open for weeks now, waiting for a post to accrete around them, but it's just not happening, so I'll drop a couple key grafs and let you go read the source material for yourself.

From a piece called the "Long Con" about how modern political Conservatism is about duping idiots for personal gain:
In this respect, it’s not really useful, or possible, to specify a break point where the money game ends and the ideological one begins. They are two facets of the same coin—where the con selling 23-cent miracle cures for heart disease inches inexorably into the one selling miniscule marginal tax rates as the miracle cure for the nation itself. The proof is in the pitches—the come-ons in which the ideological and the transactional share the exact same vocabulary, moral claims, and cast of heroes and villains.
Perfectly devoid of self awareness, the writer goes on at length about how Conservatives have an unthinking hate reflex for caricatured Liberals... (His own hate reflex for caricatured Conservatives is, of course, nuanced and reasoned and originates somewhere in the classy neighborhood of the frontal lobes, rather than the trailer park of the medulla oblongata.)

Meanwhile, we have Michael Tomasky, whose entire career arc has been one long angry atonement for the sin of having to move to Manhattan instead of being born there, suggesting that the ignorant, cousin-humping rednecks south of the Ohio should just go away:
It’s lost. It’s gone. A different country. And maybe someday it really should be. I’ll save that for another column. Until that day comes, the Democratic Party shouldn’t bother trying. If they get no votes from the region, they will in turn owe it nothing, and in time the South, which is the biggest welfare moocher in the world in terms of the largesse it gets from the more advanced and innovative states, will be on its own, which is what Southerners always say they want anyway.
I'll just go ahead and drop this Billy Beck quote yet again...
"All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war."
 What's dismaying is how many seem to be eagerly champing at the bit for it.

Alert the Ministry of Irony.

Fake fur on clothes, especially when worn for "ethical reasons" by vocal PETAphiles, has always stumped me. If you think wearing the skins of animals is cruel and unethical, then why would you want to look like you were being cruel and unethical, but ha-ha it's okay 'cause it's fake?

Isn't that a little like... I dunno... driving around with a very realistic-looking (but totally fake ha-ha!) severed human head for a hood ornament? "Oh, it would be unethical and gross to have a severed human head for a hood ornament. Don't worry, though, because this one's not real, see?" *flicks glass eyeball with thumbnail*

So it's understandable that I squealed with delighted schadenfreude when this news report wafted out of the televisor this morning.
A Rossen Reports investigation found that some garments from major retailers billed as faux fur actually contained the fur of real animals, including rabbit, coyote and raccoon dog (a species of wild dog).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tab Clearing...


A hasty grainy snapshot by available light with a phone camera...

Like when I decided to get into DSLRs, I bought a second, much cheaper film camera as a backup. The Nikon EM is a cheerful little beginner's SLR with a minimum of dials and buttons. It handles all the metering chores, allowing the shooter to set the desired aperture and then just focus and poke the button. It will softly chide you if your combination of film speed and aperture means an exposure longer than 1/30th of a second, but you can ignore it and roll the dice anyway.

Even this hipster lomographer likes it.


It is good to have a home security system, but imagine using it to watch someone breaking into your home in real-time.

Tuesday morning, Nick Essling watched LIVE from his cell phone as three men broke into his Broad Ripple home.
There's video at the link. See if you come to the same conclusion I did.

Dude's got sophisticated home security cameras that will let him watch goblins kick in a door while he's at work. And the doors in question are glass, and open onto a privacy-fenced back yard. I wonder if they even locked the gates?

Living in the city, home security is often a matter of common sense: You just need to make your house more work than the next guy's. If bad guys liked work, they'd have regular jobs. A sophisticated camera system that just lets you watch people make short work of your flimsy, inward-opening decorative door is kinda bass-ackwards in my book.

Every now and again, a suburb will break out in a rash of these daytime burglaries because your typical winding culs-de-sac of Champions Downe Greene Acres are as deserted during the day as the streets of I Am Legend, what with the the moppets at school and the mommies and daddies at the office parks.

Of course, there are active home security measures, too. If you can't have Gladys Kravitz working from a home office next door or a sprinkling of nosy retirees on the block, you can always get a dog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Digital Twitch...

The last time I know for sure I took pictures on film was on my summer vacation, 1994. That roll of film sat, un-processed, for years in my Canon ML. I don't think I ever developed it and I have no idea where it's gotten to.

I was pondering this as I was digging through boxes in the attic looking for my old AE-1 Program and coming to the reluctant conclusion that I must have either sold it back during one of my broke times in the Nineties or given it away in the early Aughties after having bought the Sony Mavica.

Anyhow, that means it's been twenty years since I shot pictures on film and that has caused me to develop an unusual tic I noticed yesterday. With the Leica, I'd carefully compose the shot, squeeze the shutter button gently so as to not disturb the image... and immediately yank my face away from the eyepiece and glance at the back of the camera to see what I'd got, staring dumbly at the blank metal and leatherette because I expected there to be a little screen there with my picture on it.

As a shooter, this bugs me. Prairie-dogging up over the pistol sights to look for the hole after every shot is poor form, shows a lack of follow-through, and causes misses. If you're calling your shots, you should know where that bullet hole is. I don't know how that translates to cameras, but it seems like it should.

ETA: Kevin informs me that this habit is called "chimping".
ALSO ETA: Speaking of Kevin and gun/camera analogies...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The side benefits of hipsters.

#LATFH: An iPad, a Leica film camera, and a Fountain Square Brewing Co. Count Nibula chocolate milk stout at Twenty Tap in SoBro.

So, I go online this morning to discover that Cord Camera up on 86th, a place I last visited to buy a battery charger for my Rebel XTi, had closed back in January. I'll be driving to Roberts, I guess.

Ironically*, the local hipster record shop, in addition to vinyl and turntables, stocks a small selection of film for "Lomography" or "Analog Photography" which is what hipsters call "Using cheap cameras and film to take pictures."

So, like vacuum tubes, hipsters have helped save another antique technology.


Automotif LVIII...

1970 Ford Torino GT


re: The Sony Hack... Everybody in the news media is standing around licking lollipops, condemning the shameful robbery of the candy store. My irony meter has bent its needle.
"Where'd you get that sucker, Savannah Guthrie?"

"Oh, some masked bad man dropped it. Stealing from the candy store is bad don't you think? Here, he dropped a bunch; I have another one in my purse. Want it?"

Monday, December 15, 2014

Object of Desire

Much like the Luger I got recently, I am just compelled to paw this thing. Last time I was behind a camera store counter, this was an unachievable object of desire. The body alone cost more than the used car I was driving at the time.

Tomorrow I'll go get some film and batteries.

Compare and Contrast:

What color is a Sudden Jihadi Syndrome Awareness Ribbon, and where can I sign up to walk for the cure?


So, I saw this in the sidebar at

...and I got all excited about what surely must be the news story of the decade! Visions of a rogue Zamboni chasing terrified skaters around the rink to the tune of "Yakety Sax" like some demented low-budget SyFy channel Maximum Overdrive ripoff...

But alas, when I clicked the link, it was not to be:
"A carbon monoxide leak at a Wisconsin ice rink left 81 people hospitalized -- and a Zamboni could be to blame."
Carbon monoxide leak? Well, that doesn't work to "Yakety Sax" at all. Hopes: Dashed.

Lotta chatter on NPR the other day...

...about the Ruble taking it in the shorts lately, complete with some mutual back-patting about the effect of sanctions. Then today on Twitter, I saw this and it made me wonder...

Aussie po-po just stormed the cafe.

EDIT: Initial CNN report, so expect everything outside the basic fact that the cafe was assaulted and the hostage situation is over to be potentially wrong.

Workplace Violence Down Under!

"Chilling images from Australian media on Monday showed people, believed to be hostages, with their hands pressed against the cafe's windows. They were holding up a black flag with Arabic writing on it reading, "There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God.""
Another case of Sudden Jihadi Syndrome, apparently. This stuff has proved deadlier than Ebola in the Western world, but do you see any fundraisers being done to stomp it out? No. Because that's racist or something.

Get sick with Ebola and you're Person Of The Year at TIME; shoot a jihadi in the face and you're a PTSD risk and should be constantly monitored for signs of going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Automotif LVII...

1969 Pontiac GTO convertible

Sunday, December 14, 2014


I got some of those Hall's "Daily Defense" things in the sugar-free lemon creme flavor. They're like two little translucent yellow lemon-flavored lozenges sandwiching an opaque white layer that I suppose is the "creme" part.

Had one. It tasted like a mouthful of boiled ass. 0/10. Do not recommend. Threw away the rest of the bag.

That man starches and presses his blue jeans...

...assuming, of course, that he owns any.

The man to whom I refer is David Goldman, who affects the curmudgeon at P.J. Media under the nom de plume "Spengler". I don't get it, Glenn; you want to show the hip and savvy face of the Libertarianesque Right and then you've got this guy on the masthead who's about as unhip as an intertrochanteric fracture.

I get not liking Star Wars. I mean, other than the first two movies I'm not much of a fan myself. On the other hand, spinning rambling essays where you try and graft some sort of philosophical meat around the naked armature of "Get Off My Lawn You Damn Kids!" is just silly, especially when you're so not right on the topic in question that you're not even wrong. "I don't like it, no sir," is an acceptable answer; you don't need to come up with some sort of psychosociological cow exhaust to justify your tastes.

The icing on the cake, though, is when you try and deflect the legions of howling fanbois whose sudden presence in your comments section seems to have baffled you by telling them to shun Star Wars because it's full of "pagan" mumbo jumbo that is influenced by the Siegfried legend and instead read Tolkein's Narn i Chîn Húrin, which is a straight-up Nibelungenlied pastiche. Golf clap, dude.

On the bright side of things, way to generate the clicks, though, P.J. Media! Because the fanbois must have been swarming into the trench of Spengler's comments section like X-wings answering the horns of Gondor, to mix my metaphors appropriately. (Unlike Mr. Goldman, I actually do speak a bit of Nerd.)

Every inch of you is Wookie from the bottom to the top...

I don't follow Rand Paul's Twitter feed, but Instapundit does, and he re-tweeted this one just now...

"Yeah it's pretty clear, I ain't no RINO
But I can vote NO, vote NO like I'm supposed to do
'Cause I got that obstruction Tea Partiers chase
All the right NOPE in all the right places..."
"All about that base, 'bout that base..."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Automotif LVI...

1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird: One of the most outrageous things to ever roll off a Detroit production line, done solely to homologate the aero aids for NASCAR competition.

(Interestingly, while a lot of folks know about the first round of NASCAR aero cars that produced the Superbird, Charger Daytona, Torino Talladega, and Cyclone Spoiler, not as many know about the second bout of homologation specials that occurred some fifteen years later and produced the Monte Carlo Aerocoupe and Grand Prix 2+2 in response to the aggressively aerodynamic '83-'88 T-Birds.)

Automotif LV...

1969 Dodge Charger R/T

"Hey, mister! That thing got a Hemi in it?" Unlikely, but it's plenty cool nonetheless.
There was a small gathering of muscle cars in the parking lot at Boogie Burger today. We swung around so I could take pictures, and decided to stop for a tasty Boogie Burger lunch while we were at it... (I had the Disco Inferno burger: grilled serrano peppers and jack cheese.)

Ignorance. Sheer retardery. MORONS!

Actual, no-kidding headline at CNN:

Well, no shit, Sherlock. What'd you think he was going to find? That the kid died of a heart attack right before the bullet hit him and rule it as death from natural causes? Of course it was a homicide; that's what it's called when one person kills another person, you drooling imbecile.

This is the opposite of news. This is retardery provoked by either a grasp of how the criminal justice system works that would be considered unusually poor for a dyslexic lemur or a blatant desire to keep this stirring in the headlines in order to draw the eyeballs necessary to sell car commercials. (Or, as seems increasingly likely, some horrible combination of the two.)

The Religion of Temper Tantrums

Mr. Meidyatama was quoted in The Post on Friday as saying he was “amazed” at the suggestion of blasphemy because the cartoon was meant to criticize deviant Islam.

“What we produced was a journalistic piece that criticized the ISIS movement, which has carried out violence in the name of religion,” he was quoted as saying, referring to the Islamic State militant group.

Conservative Islamic groups protested when the cartoon was published, contending that it “strengthens the stigma that Islam represents senseless murderers,” according to Haris Amir Falah, one protest leader.
So... you say that violent senseless murderers are perverting Islam, and when a guy draws a cartoon saying that senseless murderers are perverting Islam, you try and get him thrown in prison?  Do I have that right?

DirecTV are a sack of bastards.

Exhibit A.

The prosecution rests, Your Honor.


It's almost a pop culture proverb that if someone is accused of something sensational, say, kiddie-diddlin', the accusations will be trumpeted on the front page, and if those accusations turn out to be false, the retraction is below the fold on pg. 23 with the dry-cleaning coupons and right before the obits.

Similarly when you see this and this, understand that it's because the media raced each other to the six o'clock news to report the most fabulous version of events as provided by biased witnesses. I'd be willing to bet that a majority of the people in those photos are protesting a teenager getting shot in the back, a narrative not remotely supported by the facts, but trumpeted by the news enough that it has become fact for the people in question.

In a world where a 300lb man wrestling for a cop's gun is consistently referred to as an "unarmed teenager" while a man with a pen knife that never left his pocket is always referred to as an "armed man", it's hard not to believe there's more than a little bit of truth to claims of a "narrative". If some Ferguson business owner were to sue the big news organizations for the damages... well, I'd love to be on that jury.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lotta truth there...

Partly because I'm reading Massad Ayoob's new book, Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense, partly because of this post by ToddG, and partly because of the stupid overflowing in the news lately, the woeful lack of knowledge most people have regarding Use Of Force issues has been on my mind.

Let's take the example of "furtive movement" shootings in which it turns out that the shootee was unarmed and the shooter was merely reacting to a movement they interpreted as going for a pistol. To somebody who doesn't know anything about how guns work "He didn't even have a gun!" is somehow entirely dispositive of the matter.

Now, I am not notably fast, in fact I am downright sluggish, but even I can draw a pistol from concealment and hit a wide-open target right in front of me in less than two seconds, and the bulk of that time is spent in fishing the gun out from underneath the cover garment. Basic human reaction time is about half a second. Scribble some numbers on the back of an envelope and figure how much time that leaves somebody to react once my gun is actually visible.

This is why the totality of the circumstances is considered in cases like that: Would a reasonable person, knowing what the shooter knew at the time, have done the same thing? I know how long it takes to draw a gun. I know how long it takes me to draw a gun. I know I am under no obligation to let the other person shoot me before I commence defending myself.

Now, ideally, these are the sort of things that get presented to juries, but the general public only knows what they heard in the initial news report, which is all too often the most sensational angle that was presented in order to get the most eyeballs for the car dealerships and aluminum siding companies that pay for your news. So the jury comes out and acquits somebody for what the general public has been told is the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed person.

Anyhow, this was rambling. I've still got a mad-on at the media I need to work out. More later.

Thank you, Captain Obvious...

Peter Bergen of CNN would like to explain to you why U.S. Special Operations Forces sometimes do not succeed in freeing hostages. He says that the main reasons are a lack of current correct intelligence, and a failure to retain the element of surprise.

Well, no kidding, there, Enrico Fermi.

I feel like I just read twenty paragraphs of someone explaining that football teams lose games by not scoring more points than their opponents, with a few examples sprinkled in to illustrate the point. He apparently got his job by looking ruggedly handsome in a Banana Republic jacket and a shemagh, and not for his analytical skills.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

I literally can't even.

"Court documents say both men were at a party when Saye suggested trying Russian roulette after a game of beer pong. Authorities said Saye put a handgun, loaded with five rounds, to White’s head and pulled the trigger, killing him. Court documents say other party-goers warned Saye that a semi-automatic pistol would not work for the game."
You have got to be $#!++ing me. Nobody can be that dumb and not starve from forgetting which end of the spoon goes in their mouth. That's not even bright enough to make it as a sessile filter-feeder; when you're that dim, you could get outwitted by plankton. That's barely smart enough to sneak up on grass.

Further, how did they not have a Taurus Judge available? I mean, they're obviously sitting on the bullseye of that target demographic.

Target: Dirtbags in the open.

So, after reading this article, the first question that comes to my mind is "Are we all, like, out of cluster bombs or something?"

I mean, it's not like anybody's going to feel bad about getting medieval on these dudes, mostly because they're already medieval. It'd be like feeling sorry for the ants you were spraying for in the crawlspace. It's a damn shame that the civilized world has lost its taste for punitive expeditions.

No, Colin, just because you break it doesn't mean you have to buy it. Sometimes you just have to break it and tell the people standing around watching it get broken that they'd better not make you come back and break it again if they know what's good for them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Gone Baby, Gone...

My very first centerfire rifle was a Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk.I* with your basic chopped-stock-and-varnish Bubba sporterizing job. I liked it because it held 10 rounds, which obviously made it the best rifle. Incidentally, this was also why middle-school-age me thought the P.08 Luger was obviously superior to the M1911: Eight rounds is more than seven.

I still have a couple of Enfields: A relatively nice BSA ShtLE complete with volley sights and mag cutoff and the whole nine yards, as well as a postwar Fazakerley No.4 Mk.II I bought off Marko, one of the batch of unissued guns that came in-country in the early Aughties. I'll always have a soft spot for the things.

So it's kinda poignant for me to see one of the few remaining official users of the old Limey crank-cocker phasing it out. (Although you have to admit that the article does have some of that quintessentially Canadian self-effacing politeness...)
"Lee-Enfields are issued to Rangers primarily for self-defence, he stresses. The Rangers are trained to kill only if clearly threatened.

But if one of these primal, snorting predators happens to attack or target you, Rittwage says, a reliable rifle is requisite.
“Polar bears will stalk the Rangers. And although polar bears are a protected animal, if you’re faced with life and limb, if that polar bear is out to kill you, you’re going to have to take its life. And that .303 has the stopping power to do that.”"

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!

Gotta love the reactions of the MSNBC morning crew. Because they live in Tolerance Acres down at the corner of Acceptance Avenue and Broadminded Boulevard...

Thank you Willie Geist for confirming that whatever the peacock is paying you to work around those people, it ain't enough. Hopefully they won't eat all of what's left of your soul; you strike me as a fundamentally decent person.

The disturbing thing about this is the way half everyone on the internet is acting like it was just a schoolyard prank gone bad. "Oh, a bit of chlorine in the stairwell... Boys will be boys!" Let's not forget that plain ol' straight-up chlorine gas is the original higher form of killing* and it put paid to a mess of Tommies and Poilus at Ypres back in the '14-'18 War. Just 'cause nobody came stumbling and flound'ring out of that hotel looking like an extra in a Wilfred Owen poem doesn't mean that that wasn't a potential outcome.

*"At BASF, we didn't invent poison gas; we made it deadlier!"

Sorry 'bout that...

I got reports yesterday that some readers who were using MS Explorer w/o pop-up blockers were getting their browsers hijacked when they tried to view my blog. Apparently Site Meter decided to throw some big full-screen popups or redirects in with their previously benign counter Java script.

Ah, well, Google Analytics comes with the package and, with blogging being all dead and such, it's not much fun keeping up with the stats anyway. So... 'bye Site Meter. I can't complain; I've definitely gotten my money's worth for the past nine years.

(The one thing I will miss is surfing the backlinks from Site Meter. About half the blogs I like, I discovered because they linked to me.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Crappy History.

In the booming post-Industrial Revolution days of the late 19th Century, before the Haber-Bosch process of nitrogen fixation rendered it less important to industrial and agricultural processes, guano was an incredibly valuable natural resource.

The US government passed laws about it. South American nations went to war over it. And the latter topic caused this to pop up in a discussion elsewhere:

I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

Get a grip, honey.

So, this senior Korean Air exec, name of Cho Hyun-ah, is aboard an A380 at JFK, and they're taxiing merrily along when she starts wondering angrily why she has not been offered a preflight snack. In response to her agitated queries, one of the first class cabin flight attendants then has the temerity to serve her macadamia nuts in a bag and not on a dish.

Ms. Senior Executive then apparently completely Loses. Her. Fecal Matter. and demands the plane turn around and taxi back to the gate to deposit the now-former flight attendant someplace where her presence would not offend Cho before resuming the 14-hour JFK-ICN slog.

Everybody knows that improperly-served macadamia nuts are a horrible inconvenience to long-suffering first class travellers, a far worse one than dragging a couple hundred fellow passengers with you as you taxi all over hell and gone of JFK's back 40 like the Flying Dutchman to make the aircrew carry out your petty whims.

You know, the NYC-Seoul run has to be flown by some of the most senior guys in the airline. In a perfect world, the pilot would have been a crusty old guy on his last round trip before retirement and he would have taxied back to the gate and put Cho ashore instead of the poor stew. That would have been money.

Monday, December 08, 2014

I blame Wilson.

While there were plenty of other sources behind the concept, one can certainly trace the ICC back through the egregious show trials at Nuremburg and Tokyo and on to the odious Wilson's pet League of Nations.

Wilson's whole notion that there must be something beyond "might makes right" in international law is one of those things that sounds great over a bong in a dorm room at 3AM but doesn't have any basis in reality. The WWII Allies could have tried and sentenced Hitler in absentia, but it wouldn't have meant anything until you sent Joe and Tommy and Ivan into the rubble of a bombed-flat Germany to get him. And once you've done that, any goofy trials charging him with being a Very Naughty Boy are just silly. You don't need any elaborate legalizing when standing over the prostrate foe; you toss the sword on the scales, say "Vae victis!" and be done with it.

Anyhow, given the ample historical precedent we've set, it looks like the Hague is working up the nerve to see if it can hoist us by our own petard. Somewhere General Homma is laughing ruefully.


Q: "How many magazines should you have?"

A: "More."
For instance, consider full-size M&P 9 magazines. I have the one in my gun, the spare, eight more in the range bag that I use for range magazines, and then there are a further three or five still in factory packaging, unopened, in the safe. Should one of the ones in the range bag go wonky, I'm going to toss it and replace it with one of those.

If you're in some place where grandfathered "high capacity" magazines are a rare commodity (or if you're talking about some valuable C&R where actual scarcity is an issue) then by all means diagnose the problem and try and repair the magazine. But if you're dealing with a modern commodity gat with $12-$30 magazines? It's usually easiest to pitch it and buy a new one unless it's an obvious spring issue. If you're trying to re-form feed lips on surplus GI M16 mags in a world where new Magpuls are barely more than a lunch combo at Wendy's, you're practicing false economy.

Sunday, December 07, 2014


Shootin' Buddy wanted me to find the directions to a restaurant for breakfast, so I dutifully scribbled them down on a PostIt note, plugged them into the portable magic elf box, and off we went into the great unknown, 'way out past 86th Street to where the buses don't run.

Unfortunately, rather than getting directions to Erika's Place in Westfield, IN, I instead took down directions to...

...Erika's Place in bustling downtown Cicero, IN. Wholly coincidentally, on this date, two thousand and fifty-seven years ago, the great Roman philosopher, lawyer, poet, and author Cicero was killed in the street by legionaries on the orders of Marcus Antony as an enemy of the republic. (Which is one of the more egregious examples of the pot calling the kettle black that I can think of.) There is no town of "Antony, IN".


There's no sport in mocking Mark Morford. It's like beating up the 60-lb. asthmatic kid with the coke-bottle glasses or hunting dairy cattle with a scoped big game rifle; he's the bunny slope of snark targets. Still, sometimes one has to at least go through the motions for form's sake.

Here, everybody's favorite shrieking hysteric is describing me, or thinks he is, as he confidently puts out a BOLO for the American Gun Owner:
"You’re a scared white person, almost certainly male. You do not live in a major city, or near a university or intellectual hub of any note, nor have you ever traveled very far from your home town, much less out of state or anywhere further than, say, Mexico. Once. And that was enough.

You do not read complicated books. You do not like new or weird things. You watch lots of TV, mostly Fox News, which rejoices in showing you endless images of angry foreigners and minorities in pain: tear gas explosions, fights in the streets, looting, this time involving sad, small-town black people in Ferguson, all of them protesting the acquittal of that murderous white cop."
Let's see... Wrong-ish, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong.

Wow, Mark, that was nearly wrong in every particular! It bordered on fractally wrong, in that every little piece, taken by itself, was as wrong as the whole. The only thing you got right is that I am, in fact, a cracker. This is fast becoming the Left's replacement for Original Sin; a thing for which one frantically spends time in atonement, lest one's conviction be doubted.

Now, I ask you, isn't there a word you Progressive sorts use for ignorant yahoos who are frightened of strawman caricatures of their opponents?


Incisive, nuanced political commentary.
Remember, kids! It's not _______ when we do it!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #117...

Smith & Wesson Model 21-4 Thunder Ranch Special. Bought new back in '04 or '05 when they first hit the market. I have the wood-and-glass display case, too. At least, I think that's what's in the cardboard box that came with the gun; I've never opened it to find out.

I cannot believe that some marketing genius at Smith took what was an ideal formula for a big-bore carry revolver, a round-butt taper-barrel N-frame M&P, and fruited it up with that gold leaf logo and a "display case". Mine got shoved into a kydex holster the day it came out of the box.